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Monday, April 18, 2011

The Autism Intervention Conference Presentation

On Friday I was at the Thompson Center's Autism Intervention Conference. During the morning I worked the TouchPoint booth and forgot how much fun it is to work a booth. This fun I mention came after the tense moments of trying to figure out where I would be speaking, where to get my name tag, and then where the expo hall was.

I walked past the room, got my name tag, but then for some reason I had this tremendous fear of entering the expo hall. I could see the TouchPoint booth, but for some reason I just could not walk in. To buy some time, and to weigh my options, I moved my bags from my hotel room to the car (the conference was at a hotel). After this was done I walked back in and headed towards the expo hall.

It wasn't so much to walk in, but what would I say? Nothing had been planned with me at the booth and I had no idea what I should be doing so the only thing I was able to do was worry about what I should be doing. Eventually I walked in and said hello and was asked if I wanted to hang out around the booth with my books. This was exactly what I wanted, but there was no way I could have asked for that.

During the expo hall time I had many great conversations with people and I love how fast people catch onto my Kansas concept (what is Kansas? See my glossary). There was one disconcerting aspect to this time though; I met a person from North Dakota! I have given over 120 presentations in front of over 5,500 people and never had I met a person from that state. You see, in my presentations I talk about Kansas then say, "Now let's say I cross the border into another state, such as North Dakota..." I don't have anything against the state, it's just that there's never any news from there and I never met a person from there so, in my presentations I ask, is it there? Well, after meeting this person I now know it is there so I am going to have to find a new state to pick on.

As my presentation time neared I didn't really know what to do. For months all my presentations have been with a TouchPoint staff there. It's very structured and always the same, but this was a new situation. As 2:30 rolled around and the break out session before me finished I walked into the room and got my laptop out and connected the wires. I did not wait for direction as I figured if I waited I'd panic, and if I got to that point I wouldn't ask for help so for one of the first times in my life I set up and if I got yelled at so be it. Of course, my catastrophic thinking was unwarranted and what I did was exactly the right thing and at 3:00 I began my talk.

There was something about this forum that for some reason my presentation was just fuller. I keep saying this and maybe I am just getting more and more comfortable, but I am noticing a more visible impact with my stories in terms of the emotions of those who attend. Maybe I've always had this and I never looked at anyone. In any event there were times people laughed to tears, and then others people were moved to tears.

At the end many people gave me compliments which I am getting better at accepting. When I started I'd just give a nod of some sort, but now I am managing a half smile and a "thank you". I don't know if anything else is expected and it still is a little bit awkward for me.

Later today I will be in Marshall, Missouri and then Tuesday night I will be in Columbia once again for a presentation that could see a large audience. This past Saturday I had presentations in Brookfield and Kirksville. I had been in Kirksville before, but I had no recollection of the building or the room I presented in which was somewhat of a shock to me. I did coin a term though I believe, I called the gameshow "Wheel of Fortune" as, "sensory candy" because that spinning wheel is simply the most awesome thing ever!

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